Visit to Taiwan
Where will the new Google cell phone be made?
In Taiwan, a small country with substantial technology expertise. It is a top-ten trading partner of the U.S. with semiconduictors and computer parts at the top of the list.
Last spring, bi-partisan delegations of legislators from Virginia and West Virginia were invited to visit Taiwan as a part of a continuing outreach program by the government of Taiwan. I was pleased to participate in this year’s visit, along with three other members of the Virginia General Assembly.
The Virginia delegation was composed of two delegates-Mark Sickles from southern Fairfax and me-and two Senators, Patsy Ticer from Alexandria and Ryan McDougle from Hanover County.
The West Virginia delegation also consisted of two delegates and two senators. Different delegations from both states have made earlier visits.
Starting with long plane trips, the experience was rewarding, informative, and at times, exhausting. The six-day stay in Taiwan was filled with informative tours and exchanges with representatives of businesses, educational and governmental institutions.
We visited National Sun Yat-sen University in the southern city of Kaoshiung University, and enjoyed a lively discussion with a class of 40-50 of the University’s 10,000 students. Established in 1980, the University was named after the founder of the Republic of China.
We also visited Taiwan’s huge port operated by the large international firm, Evergreen, its very impressive science and technology park where research and technology are promoted to stimulate economic development in Taiwan, and its national museum with the largest collection of Chinese art in the world. And we rode on Taiwan’s magnificent new high-speed rail system that runs from Taipei south.
We visited a clinic in Taiwan’s health services program that provides medical services from cradle to grave, including primary care and sophisticated medical care to all Taiwanese at little expense to patients.
We had seen a PBS special on it before we left and we anxious to see if it was as good as the program suggested. We concluded it was.
The main event of our trip was the inauguration of the President Ma Ying-jeou. A Harvard, educated lawyer, President Ma was elected in a landslide resulting from his promise to reduce tensions between mainland China and Taiwan.
President Ma followed 8 years of the presidency of President Chen Shiu-bian, whose party ran on a platform of active promotion of independence of Taiwan from China. President Ma defeated his opponent, Frank Hsieh, by more than 2 million votes of the 17.5 million votes cast.
Following his inauguration, President Ma promptly took action to make it easier for China-Taiwan travel to take place. As a result, Taiwan-China exchanges have increased dramatically.
We were all pleased to witness only the fifth inauguration of an elected president of Taiwan.
Taiwan in Washington
Taiwan is not recognized as a nation by the U.S. or the United Nations. Therefore it is not represented by an ambassador, but by a “Representative,” who leads Taiwan’s efforts to improve relationships and trade with the U.S.